To Suffolk Transportation Service, Inc. (STS) Transit Bus Driver Walter Rodriguez, running for Team Mission United simply presents another opportunity to do what he does best. With ten years of running under his belt, Rodriguez has completed five TCS NYC Marathons. This year, as he embarks on his sixth, he has welcomed the chance to make it even more memorable.
“I feel very thankful and grateful to be a part of Team Mission United,” he said. Running on behalf of Mission United allows Rodriguez to continue supporting a community with which he is all too familiar.
As a transit bus driver, Rodriguez interacts with a slew of different passengers each day. He shared, “Everybody has a story. We try to do the best we can for our riders, when you try to understand them it makes for a better ride for everyone.” Driving around Long Island – home to one of the largest populations of veterans – it is not uncommon for these passengers to include a fair share of veterans.
Rodriguez takes advantage of these brief interactions to show his appreciation. “Every day veterans show me their ID and I thank them for their service to our country,” he said. For Rodriguez, these instances provide the perfect occasion to display his support, as he works to get veterans where they need to go.
“At STS, we encourage our employees to pursue their passions, and for Walter that passion is clearly his running,” said Teresa O’Halloran, Executive Director of HR, Safety & Risk Management for Suffolk Transportation Service, Inc. and United Way Board Member. “For the second year in a row, we are proud to sponsor a runner on Team Mission United and support the brave men and women who served our country in the military.”
Now, as Walter gears up to run with Team Mission United, the familiar dive into one of the world’s most popular marathons serves as another opportunity to give back. “These veterans have had to go through so much for us, and to have the chance to run for them, it’s my pleasure,” he said. With such a notable cause attached the race, it comes as no surprise that Rodriguez has decided to train with the best of the best.
His biggest motivation comes from his two training partners – Brownie and Buttercup, a dynamic doggy duo that ensure Rodriguez never misses his marathon preparation. “They motivate me to keep running. No matter the weather, they want to go out,” he recalled. His canine cheerleaders follow him every step of the way, accompanying him on runs as long as thirteen miles.
With his companions urging him on, Rodriguez will undoutedly make this year’s race even better than the last five. Not to mention, it seems Team Mission United may have just found some honorary mascots.